EMA Summer Motorcycle Tour: Chuckanut Drive

Washington has no limit of beautiful scenery, mountainous landscapes, island and lush greenery. At Evergreen Motorcycle Attorneys, we are always in search of places that allow us to experience the beauty of Washington up close.  That is why we’ve chosen Chuckanut Drive as the second location on our Summer Motorcycle Tour.

Evergreen Motorcycle Attorneys' map of Chuckanut Drive


Navigating Washington’s Big Sur

Chuckanut Drive is a twisting, 21-mile segment of State Road 11 that hugs the northern coast of the Puget Sound. The nickname for this enchanting drive is Washington’s Big Sur. Driving north, it begins in Burlington at Exit 231, via I-5, and ends in Bellingham. A relaxed speed will suit this drive, due to sharp turns that double the amount of time it takes to cruise safely. The two narrow lanes weave along sandstone cliffs bordering the water below, and the forest behind.

Before the road was built in 1909, the area that it runs through was only accessible by water. More than a century has passed since then, but the ambiance of the area remains the same. This ride offers the experience to immerse yourself in a rugged landscape, without barriers between you and the wonders of the Pacific Northwest.

Bellingham Bay's scenic water views on Chuckanut Drive

Riding from Burlington to Bellingham, WA

From Burlington to Bellingham, you can see Chuckanut Mountain, Chuckanut Bay, and Samish Bay as well as the Samish lowlands. Oyster Creek and Colony Creek Bridge are on your route too, and the San Juan Islands dot the coast. Throughout the 21 miles of this scenic byway, there are a ton of places to stop and explore the landscape, or grab a bite to eat. We’ve listed a few of these noteworthy places below.

Recreational Activities on Chuckanut Drive

  • Chuckanut Mountain Park & Chuckanut Ridge Trail: Within Chuckanut Mountain Park there is an abundance of trails to explore the coves, forests, and creeks that are characteristic of Washington’s lush landscape. Chuckanut Ridge Trail is a 10-mile round-trip hike with stunning views of Mt. Baker and the lower British Columbia Mountains.
  • Larabee State Park: Larabee became Washington’s first state park in 1915. It encompasses 2,700 acres, with campgrounds, trails, shore access and freshwater lakes. There is a large parking lot on the south side of Larabee and from there you can follow the signs for Clayton Beach for half a mile.
  • Bat Caves Trailhead – Oyster Dome Trail: This hike leads across uneven ground into dense forest, far from your day-to-day. Where the trail nears the cliff side there are clear views of the San Juan Islands.

Dining Options on Chuckanut Drive

  • Rhododendron Café: Each month the menu changes to feature cooking styles from different parts of the world. In April 2017, the Rhodo Cafe won the CascadiaWeekly.com Best of Skagit award for their desserts. Adjacent to the café is a bakery and Northwest art gallery, called Rhody Too Gallery.
  • Chuckanut Manor: This spot has been around for more than fifty years. Chuckanut Manor serves steak, seafood, and a tasty Sunday brunch. There are also lodging options!
  • Taylor’s Shellfish Bay Oyster Farm: It is often considered the best shellfish that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Taylor’s has been farming shellfish for a century! Be sure to check it out on your trip.
  • The Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive: The Oyster Bar offers a unique fine dining experience, with plenty of seafood options beside oysters. The restaurant clings to the side of a cliff, overlooking the Puget Sound.
Motorcyclist driving down Bellingham's Chuckanut Drive

Where to Stay on Chuckanut Drive

  • Fairhaven Village Inn: If you plan to end your trip in Bellingham, the Fairhaven Village Inn is a bed and breakfast with views of the Puget Sound. If you are looking for something quaint, with great reviews, this spot is for you.
  • The Chyralis Inn & Spa: This is an upscale, 4-star hotel that boasts luxe suites, spa treatments, bay views and waterside dining.

Tip: Don’t forget to check for Airbnb options in this area for a more unique, and often times, budget-friendly lodging.

The ride ends in the Historic Fairhaven District of Bellingham. If you are looking to extend your drive, there are a handful of scenic byways that intersect or connect with Chuckanut Drive. These include the Cascade Loop, the North Cascades Scenic byway, Whidbey Scenic Isle way, and Mt. Baker Scenic byway.

If you plan to visit Chuckanut Drive this summer, let us know. Feel free to share your photos with us on Facebook or Instagram. Don’t forget to be safe out there and enjoy the ride!